Pentecost 22 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
October 24, 2021

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            Anyone else get excited about a road trip?  New things to see, new people to meet, new areas to explore. Jesus has been on a different kind of road trip since Mark, chapter 8.  Jesus’ road trip will bring him to Jerusalem where, as He tells His disciples, Mark 8:31 (ESV) 31 … the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” What kind of road trip is this?  Peter rejects this idea and rebukes Jesus for His negative talk.  Jesus has to set Peter straight and then tells the others.  Mark 8:34 (ESV) 34 …“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” 

            On this road trip Jesus goes to the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James and John and then back to His disciples where He heals a boy with an unclean spirit.  Together they walk through Galilee and Jesus tells them again, Mark 9:31 (ESV) 31 …, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 

            The disciples do not understand.  Instead they are concerned about which one of them is the greatest.  Jesus tells them, Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 … “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 

            Along the way Jesus teaches about sin and temptation. His road trip goes across the Jordan to the east side and there He stops for a while and teaches.  The disciples try to keep children away from Jesus because children are not important, but they allow a rich young man come right up to Jesus. Jesus teaches them that God does not care if you are rich, but he does care about children.  Mark 10:15 (ESV) 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 

            They get back on the road to Jerusalem.  Jesus leads the way and the disciples and others follow; they are amazed and afraid that Jesus is still continuing to Jerusalem. 

            A third time Jesus tells what will happen, Mark 10:33 (ESV) 33 …“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.”

            You would think that this would focus the disciples on the nature of this road trip, but not James and John.  They come up to Jesus and ask Him to do whatever they ask Him to do.  Jesus asks, Mark 10:36 (ESV) 36 … “What do you want me to do for you?”  The brothers say to Jesus, Mark 10:37 (ESV) 37 “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”  Jesus must just shake His head.  Jesus’ glory will be suffering and dying on the cross with two criminals crucified on His right and His left.  Jesus tells James and John that they do not know what they are asking and teaches about true greatness.  Mark 10:43–45 (ESV) 43 … whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

            Jesus leads the disciples and the others across the Jordan River to Jericho.  Jericho is 825 feet below sea level.  Jesus leads the disciples and the others through Jericho and out the other side on the road to Jerusalem which climbs up 3,300 feet over 18 miles.  The road will take them through rugged, desolate wilderness up to the City of Peace;  Jeru – shalom. 

            Jesus’ road trip is quite different from most road trips today.  Now, we take a car out on the open road at 70 miles an hour.  Jesus is walking on the stone and dirt roads maybe three miles an hour. At 70 with the windows up and music on, you see things whiz by outside, but you are not connected to them.  If someone outside tries to talk to you, you will not hear them. 

            As Jesus walks out of Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd they walk past a blind beggar sitting on the side of the road. This helpless man calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

            Jesus’ road trip is not a trip of glory as we think of glory.  It is not a trip where Jesus is visiting the rich and noble people and staying at their fancy villas insulated from the common folk.  Jesus comes for the little children, the outcast and downtrodden. Jesus comes for sinners who know they need a savior.  Jesus comes for the poor in spirit who know they cannot save themselves. 

            The blind beggar, Bartimaeus, cries out to Jesus, and the people around him tell him to shut up.  Who is this worthless, sorry excuse for a man to think he can talk to Jesus, the famous teacher?  The people try to silence him, but Bartimaeus knows Jesus is Lord, Jesus is King.  “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

            Jesus hears the blind beggar and stops along the road outside of Jericho and the whole parade of the disciples and the great crowd behind Him stops.  Jesus says, “Call him,” and they tell Bartimaeus, “Take heart.  Get up; he is calling you.” 

            Bartimaeus is likely sitting with his cloak folded in his lap to collect money from those who pass by.  He throws off the cloak, coins clattering on the ground, and jumps up to get to Jesus.  Jesus says to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”  It is the same question He asked James and John after they demand that Jesus do whatever they ask of Him.  But Bartimaeus is different.  Bartimaeus is not seeking glory, he only cries out for Jesus to have mercy on Him and now Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

            “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”  Mark 10:52 (ESV) 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.”  Jesus says, “Go your way,” and Bartimaeus follows Jesus up the desert road to Jerusalem.

This road is not a road of glory.  This road is not easy.  Like the road from Jericho to Jerusalem it is often an uphill slog with tribulation and evil and illness and injury and death.  Following Jesus is not the ticket to a life of ease. 

            This morning you gather together here and sing out, “Lord for mercy” and you receive mercy.  You come in need of forgiveness, and forgiveness is given to you by Jesus in the words of absolution, and in His Body and Blood at His altar.  You come as followers of Jesus and you are refreshed for the journey.

            Today Jesus is still on a road trip to Jerusalem — the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem — and He calls you to follow Him.  You have been on this trip with Jesus since your baptism into Christ.  You follow in His footsteps.  As a forgiven sinner you delight in God’s will and walk in His way.  The road runs right through your midst; this stone path running from the altar down the center aisle of the church and into the narthex and out the door into the world – this is the road on which you follow Jesus. Jesus is in your midst.  You all are the body of Christ on earth.  You are a follower of Jesus, so, with Jesus, you walk this road, out of this building into the world, to follow Jesus on your road trip from the waters of the font all the way to the River of Life in the Heavenly City.

            This road is not a road of glory.  This road is not easy.  Like the road from Jericho to Jerusalem it is often an uphill slog with tribulation and evil and illness and injury and death.  Following Jesus is not the ticket to a life of ease.  Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” You are on a lifelong road trip following Jesus through this life.  It is an uphill, wilderness road where you love your neighbor, even love your enemy, as you follow Jesus through life in this sin-filled world. 

Like Peter, James and John, it is so easy to get distracted by the things of this world as if they are most important.  The world wants you to chase after every new, shiny thing.  The world wants to elevate your feelings above truth and commitment.  The world wants you to seek after glory for yourself as the greatest good.  Jesus calls you to follow Him on the road to Jerusalem, and so you come here each week and sit by the side of the road and call out, “Lord, have mercy,” and He does, and you follow Jesus.  Amen. 

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